Advanced Project Management Secret: Shared Values


Requirements can make or break your projects. Depending on your personal level of PM maturity, you will make sure that you have clarified them on one, two, or three levels. Here’s what can further improve your chances to deliver the project successfully: shared values of the team.

The secret is in the proper composition of your team. Assembling the right team is highlighted in a recent McKinsey report as one of the key practices that define the “art” of project leadership.

Granted, you will not always have the luxury to hand pick the team members. In the worst case, you are parachuted into a failing project and have to make do with what you have. Even in this worst-case scenario, what I suggest here will help – if you take personal values of your team members into consideration.

In short, personal values are needs, and they refer to desirable goals that motivate action. Thus above all, you need to make sure that at least your core team members’ values are aligned with the Goal of the project.

Let’s say you have to deliver a super-new software solution that will boost your online sales. Of course, you need to have it launched before the Christmas shopping madness starts. Your “advanced” requirements will probably suggest to focus on Time and Scope (albeit a minimal one). Strategically, your goal will be the New Product Introduction. In practical terms, that means being willing to take on risk and expect to come up with a breakthrough or get a pretty bad PM score in case of a failure.

Now imagine that your team’s value profiles have been analyzed, and their locations on the “celestial map” are clustered around 4 p.m. That location is characteristic for folks high on Conservation values – like Conformity, Security, Tradition. Of course, all values are always positive by default. But dominant Conservation values may not be appropriate for the current project goal. I would suggest that those folks are your best bet if you need to fine-tune and test a product that may cost a lot of money (and human lives). Like a new aircraft. Or a software product that will be loaded on a communication satellite. But not for this project.Values Triangle

If we overlay the PM triangle on the Values Map (borrowed from Shalom Schwarz), we’ll be able to see which available specialists we should try to get on the team. The individual value profiles are indicated by the blue diamonds. For our cutting-edge project, we should be better off with the stars that are in the 9-to-12 o’clock quadrant.

The individual profiles are calculated with the CLCTVR 2.0 tool, more details here.

It should not come as a surprise that Elon Musk’s (big red) Star (that we’ve crowdsourced recently) is in this same area of the Celestial Map. Getting people remotely similar to Elon Musk shall be a good start, but it is the relative importance of multiple values that guides action. The CLCTVR tool gives a good indication of personal values congruence as well. Experience shows that, compared to randomly assembled teams (based on “resource availability”), congruent teams have a tendency to show superior results.

Want to improve your success and test your team? Let me know.